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Repatriation in Rhode Island: NAGPRA in Practice at a New England Museum

Author(s): Eve Dewan

Year: 2017

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Located within a city park in Providence, Rhode Island, the Roger Williams Park Museum of Natural History has been a popular scientific and cultural institution since it was founded in the late nineteenth century. Only about 1% of the Museum’s quarter million pieces are currently on display. Included in this vast collection are approximately 25,000 archaeological and ethnographic objects from around the world, a number that was higher prior to the passage of NAGPRA in 1990. Since this pivotal legislation was introduced over two decades ago, the Museum has worked on numerous claims for the repatriation of cultural property and ancestral remains, with varying degrees of success. Using the Roger Williams Park Museum as an institutional case study leads to a more concrete understanding of how NAGPRA affects museum realities, as well as what ethical and practical challenges arise from it. Three cases in particular highlight the law’s impact and the inner workings of the Museum’s changing relationships with Indigenous peoples and their material culture in southern New England, throughout the United States, and across the globe.

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Repatriation in Rhode Island: NAGPRA in Practice at a New England Museum. Eve Dewan. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429142)


Ethics Museums NAGPRA

Geographic Keywords
North America - Northeast

Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16327

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America